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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » Credo New » №4, 2010

Regina O. Kurets

Abstract: There are some problems that belong to any country and any time. N. Gogol showed one of them in his “Inspector”. False representation and seeking profit were the things that ruined the life of the characters in that play. This is the subject for the article.



Many theatres take plays about corruption for staging. This problem cannot be called an evil of these days only. The thing is that everyone wants to live better but moral laws are less important for many people. Those people use every chance to jump in front of others and price is nothing for them. And there are many plays that tell people about the price of such behavior. This article is devoted to some of these plays.



“Inspector” written by N. V. Gogol could not be the first play about bribe-takers on stage. There were too many plays before that comedy and there were many plays after it.




I. 1.The first to be mentioned here is the play “The way it should” written by M. I. Verevkin. Grabbers and bribe-takers “lived” very well in that play. The names of the characters were clear: Obiralov (Robber) and Urivayev-Altinnikov (Penny-Snatcher). That play was staged in the beginning of 19-th century [1, 26-27].


2. And the 20-th century also brought some interesting “relatives” of Gogol's characters.


a) First that should be mentioned here is “The story of the clicker” (or “Ravens grove” as it was named first) written by A. Vampilov in 1968. That story happened nowadays but the confusion was nearly the same. On the fiftieth birthday of A. Vampilov during Irkutsk "festival of Vampilov performances" Irkutsk Drama Theatre "showed "Ravens grove" in the formulation of I. Borisov. The show was "built on the principle of parallel action": on the right side of the stage was "Ravens grove”, and on the left - proper "The story of the clicker”. In "The story of the clicker" there acted V. K. Wenger (Baohin), V. P. Yegunov (Kaloshin) [2]... Leningrad television showed that performance then [3]. Critic V. Narozhnyi wrote in his article "Under the cries of crows and the fans..." (1987) that "when Kaloshin and Baohin are caught by... a heart attack", the masks are falling off both of them", and "the human confusion, flour and sorrow expose”. “There comes retribution for an unnatural life, there comes cleansing, a catharsis... From everyday jokes each Vampilov's story rises to the level of philosophy" [4]. And saying about acting of V. P. Egunov as Kaloshin, I. Borisov writes that "in their funny and sad duets with N. Koroleva there was a hidden secret of a serious relationship, middle-aged men and attractive to a woman... The whole role, with all seriousness grotesque figure was riddled with human pain, insecurity, reaching up to the tragicomic absurd" [4]. That story sometimes is staged by amateur theatres, too.


b) And the other example to be put here is the performance of Russian comic theatre “Skomorokh”. That theatre was sent to Irkutsk from Moscow in 1968 after their performance "On the peasant, the corona, a cow and a village-woman in the Russian scale" based on "History of the Russian state..." by A. K. Tolstoy. In Irkutsk artists resume performance "Whom are you laughing at?" after O. Wilde, A. Chekhov ... With that performance the artists were in Bratsk and Ust-Ilimsk. Later, the artists of the theatre "Skomorokh" "rehearsed in a club Society for the Blind" performance "On the Bug, Bath and all kinds of Junk" on the plays of V. Mayakovsky. After this performance " the order, signed by E. Furtseva came on the disbandment of the theatre... because of the ideological unevenness and unprofitable" [5].


II. “Inspector” itself did also come to Irkutsk spectators very often.


1) When people in Kirensk organized an amateur theatre in 1880 they staged “Inspector” by N. Gogol first [6].


2) In 1854 Irkutsk people first met Gogol. But they watched “Marriage”. And in 1880 there came Khlestakov and his new friends. People liked Mayor's Wife and Daughter, Khlestakov the rogue and Zemlyanika most of all.


3) And in seventeen years when the new theatre was built in Irkutsk, “Inspector” was the first play that came on stage. In 1927 when there came the 30-th anniversary of the theatre, “Inspector” was shown to the participants of that holiday-meeting.

And in Omsk happened the same: in 1905 the new theatre was built and “Inspector” the first performance there, too.


4) And in 1894 in Irkutsk theatre of Volsky staged “Auditor” and “The Daughter of a Russian Actor” on request of V. N. Sukachev, the Mayor of Irkutsk. The performances were prepared for children who studied in gymnasium. And N. Romanov noted that fact in his “Chronicle”.


5) Not only professional actors staged that brilliant play: there were many amateur “theatres” that tried to stage it. And they managed to stage that play. One of Irkutsk governors forbade the play. The same happened in Orel.


6) 1927 year had already been mentioned here. That very year Korsh Theatre came to Irkutsk again. That time the changed theatre had an informal name: Sibkorsh. The head of the troupe was V. F. Torsky. And Sibkorsh staged classic plays. Among other plays there came “Inspector”. Alexandra Fedorovna Peregonets, a great actress that was killed by fascists in 1944, acted as Maria Antonovna. And the spectators liked her character very much [7, 104-110].


7) The Siberian Experimental Theatre also staged “Inspector” in 1930-s.


8) Not every performance was greeted by the spectators. In 1926 Krasnozavodsky theatre from Kharkov staged the play and added some characters. Irkutsk Association of Language, Literature and Art condemned V. Tatishev, the producer, sharply.


9) Irkutsk theatre for Young spectators “gave” “Inspector” in 1938.


10) For Irkutsk theatre the “traditions mean …loyality to the playwright, life, nature, deep psychology, good literary aesthetic taste, the ability to respond serious requests of the audience” [8, 34]. As for “Inspector” it must be said that many producers went after Gogol without any change. But every producer sees a play in his own way… And the performance “Unusual Rats of unusual quantities” staged after the night-dream of Mayor is a good example of such “seeing”. S. Philippov staged those “Rats” in Irkutsk Drama theatre. Sleep and reality miss on the stage. First great grey rats come on stage to meet the audience. The interpretation of the play, a little different from the conventional, but sharpened the problem. In the final of performance "through the invisible world tears and laughter clearly sounds the question of the great writer: how ... man created for the high, becomes a liar, a torturer of his neighbour" [9].


11) In 2003 “Inspector” was staged by Alexander Grechman. And A. Grechman thinks that Gogol's comedy is still actual nowadays. And the characters of the play do live nearby [10].


12) And in Nizhneudinsk people were shown the performance “Auditor” – Young Actors Theatre put Gogol's characters in our time.


13) Puppet performance that V. Shevchenko staged in Bratsk is the first puppet performance of “Inspector” in Russia. Only Chinese actors tried to stage Puppet “Inspector” and Russian television “gave” their performance.


People in Novosibirsk were lucky to listen to opera “Inspector” that was written by Vladimir Dashkevich. The composer said: “To me is very important that “Inspector” is an awakened conscience. I think this is the most important thing we can say in the arts today". His Khlestakov fell in love and died [11].

And in Barnaul in 2002 the producer V. Vavilov staged a musical "Incognito from St. Petersburg" written by composer Victor Pleshakov after Gogol's "Inspector" [12].


It should be said that “Inspector” came to Siberian stage very often and it is hardly possible to mention every performance of the play here.


The problem and the characters of this play are still alive. Nowadays people meet them and that is why the play is alive, too. Professional and amateur theatres stage this play. Surely such persons as the characters of those performances are usual for the spectators. Those characters live among the spectators. And some people happen to get to know themselves in the plays. Therefore, the spectators watch the misfortunes of the characters with great interest.


III. And some more words about the plot of the comedy. Everyone knows that A. S. Pushkin gave it to N. V. Gogol. And there are some interesting facts concerning “Inspector”.


1) Vitaly Zorkin, a professor from Irkutsk State University found a real “Inspector”. That man's name was Peter Swinin. And the story took place in 1720-s. That time P. Swinin went to Bessarabia and people there took him for Inspector. The false inspector got many gifts… And it was P. Swinin who told A. S. Pushkin about the story [12].


2) But this happened in real life of Irkutsk. Khlestakov himself came to our city. And here is the story. It happened in 1860. One Vladimir Petrovich Fedorenko came to Irkutsk “for “important“ pass travel” The new-comer wore “brilliant guards uniform”. V. Fedorenko visited all rich and important persons of the city, littered with great money and people considered him to be a great person in the capital. V. Fedorenko borrowed much money and nobody dared to say “No”. Then new Khlestakov left Irkutsk for Yakut region. And there he also made everybody think that he was an important person! And he did manage. But when V. Fedorenko came back to Irkutsk he wounded colonel S. And only then the police asked for his passport. The so-called “great person” turned out to be an ordinary adventurer [13].


Conclusion: “You are not to steal” the Bible teaches us. But the life shows the examples of quite a different behavior. And the plays show the people the end of such a behavior. An official from the capital turned out to be a simple lad and every man who wanted to get profit was ruined. There is a good example that teaches the audience.






1. Malyarevsky P.G. Essay on history of theatre culture of Siberia. Irkutsk, 1957.

2.Streltsova E. I. Capture of duck-hunting. Irkutsk, 1998.

3. Gushanskaya E. M. Alexander Vampilov. Moscow, 1990.

4. Borisov I. Fragments. Novosibirsk, 2008.

5. Mazurova S. Vadim Lobanov. The exile to Siberia turned out to be useful / Swetlana Mazurova // Vostochno-Sibirskaya Pravda. – 2008. – November, 5.

6. Oglesneva G.V., Dorosh S.V. Cultural life of the towns of Irkutsk province in the second part of XIX-early XX centures. Irkutsk, 1998, issue 1.

7. Landau S.G. Alexandra Peregonets : the destiny of the actress. Moscow, 1990.

8. Dubovtseva I. A. Theatre seasons : articles and essays on Okhlopkov Irkutsk Drama Theatre. Irkutsk, 1985.

9. Tyron Lora Irkutsk // Strastnoy bulvar, 2009, № 9-119, pp.5-6.

10. Site: http://news.babr.ru/?IDE=38814

11. “A world premiere on Gogol play took place on stage of Opera theatre”. From: http://novosib.rfn.ru/region/rnews.html?id=38301&iid=6633&rid=50

12. http://www.amic.ru/news/25900/&dd=25&mm=9&yy=2002

13. Arefieva A. Irkutsk Sherlock Holmes leads the investigation / Anastasia Arefieva // Arguments and facts in Eastern Siberia. – 2007. – January, 10.

14. Mokeev N. Irkutsk Khlestakov // Goldfarb S. In “Irkutsk, Irkutsk… Stories of the old city”. Irkutsk, 2007, pp. 214-215.

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